What a foofaraw!

Have you ever come across the word foofaraw? If not, can you guess what it means?

I stumbled on it in a book I’m reading at the moment, Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries by Kory Stamper. It is used in the following context:

“Dictionaries, he explained, were records of the language as it is used, and so we must set aside our disdain for the adverb “good” [..] and record its long use in our dictionaries in spite of the rather pointless foofaraw around its existence.”

The reference to the use of good as an adverb is illustrated by the phrase “I’m doing good”, which pedants would tell you should be “I’m doing well”.

Foofaraw - definition

Merriam-Webster defines it as “frills and flashy finery; a disturbance or to-do over a trifle.”

Dictionary.com defines it as “a great fuss or disturbance about something very insignificant; an excessive amount of decoration or ornamentation, as on a piece of clothing, a building, etc.”

According to Wiktionary it means “Overly excessive or flashy ornamentation or decoration; Fuss over something of little importance.” It’s pronounced [ˈfu.fəˌɹɔ], was first used in writing in the 1930s, and is of uncertain origin.

Dictionary.com suggests that it may be related to the French word fanfaron (boasting, boaster), which is either imitative, or could come from Arabic فَرْفَار‎ (farfār), which is possibly the origin of fanfare in French and English. The word fanfaron is an obsolete English word for a bully, boaster or braggart [source].

I might use the word hoo-ha instead of foofaraw. It means “a fuss, uproar, commotion or stir; hype; brouhaha, hullabaloo”, and is also written hoohaa, hoohar, hoo-haa, hoo-har or hoo-hah. It possibly comes from the Yiddish הו־האַ‎ (hu-ha – a hullabaloo) [source].

Do you know other words with a similar mean to foofaraw or hoo-ha?

One thought on “What a foofaraw!

  1. Unfortunately “hoo-ha” is probably inadvisable for speakers of US English, as in recent years it’s become a widely-used euphemism for a very private part of the female body.

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